Queen Latifah

The Cultural Impact of Queen Latifah's Artistry


Feb. 7 2024, Published 10:50 p.m. ET

Queen Latifah once stated, “We can’t keep this thing going with one person. We need a bunch of us,” – while speaking on the need for more women in hip-hop back at a time when Nikki Minaj appeared to be the only woman holding it down for the ladies.

She gave an example of how during her hip-hop days there were more women at the top, mentioning the likes of Salt N Pepa, Monie, MC Lyte, and herself. She concluded by saying, “It’s always great when there’s a bunch of us doing this so we can elevate at the same time.”

On top of championing greater participation for women in hip-hop, the legendary entertainer has also had a huge impact on the culture.

Influence on Entertainment and Culture

Queen Latifah’s influence is a result of her impactful milestones.

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Music Impact

Latifah’s first single “Wrath of My Madness” thrust her into the limelight. Afterward, she released her debut album, “All Hail The Queen.” The rapper put the focus on women with “Ladies First” – a massive hit featuring Monie Luv. The track changed the hip-hop landscape by seeking to bring women to the forefront.

In addition to “Ladies First” and album names like “Nature of a Sista” and “All Hail the Queen,” the powerful rapper introduced feminism to hip-hop culture. All this demonstrated her dedication to empowering and uplifting women. In 1995, Latifah became the first Black female rapper to win a Grammy in history. Since then, a few other female hip-hop artists have won Grammys including Cardi B, Lauryn Hill, and Eve.

Latifah’s efforts to level the playing field for women also led her to be awarded with the Candace Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

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As part of the hip-hop collective the Flavor Unit (and subsequent co-leader), Queen Latifah made an even bigger impact in the world of music throughout the ‘90s and beyond. The group, which would later transform into the Flavor Unit Entertainment had a lot of influence in television and music circles and even managed some of the biggest names in the industry, including Outkast, Naughty by Nature, Monica, and Faith Evans among others.

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Impact on Hollywood

One of the biggest moments of hip-hop culture occurred in the early ‘90s when top names (such as Ice Cube and Will Smith) in the genre started crossing over to Hollywood. Latifah opened the door for female rappers looking to make the move, by being the first woman to successfully transition to the big screen and television. During this period, the rapper made appearances in popular movies including Jungle Fever, Juice, and House Party 2. She also had roles in highly-rated sitcoms like, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

The rapper’s recurring part in the television sitcom Living Single established her as an American darling by bringing her into households each week. Furthermore, Latifah’s iconic performance in Set It Off cemented her place as a highly respected actress.

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